Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Positive Post!

Though admittedly I voiced support for Stephen Elliott's recent criticism of the Huffington Post's new book publishing coverage over at the Rumpus, I am now linking with great enthusiasm to a HuffPo piece. But hey, the Books page is edited by an editor from Dutton, Amy Hertz, while the piece I'm supporting here is from one of my favorite independents, Chelsea Green, in one of my favorite parts of the world. I'm sure Hertz is a lovely person, but she's definitely working for a corporate extreme at Dutton.

But then there's Makenna Goodman... Insert crush here.

Ya see, Goodman threw off the shackles of corporate publishing and left that world behind for Vermont farming, as she says, "leaving the world of possibility to shovel SHIT and get frost bite." But when she needed some extra money, she stumbled upon Chelsea Green and it was a match. She quotes the publishing house's mission regarding their model: "a perfect example of what is called a 'triple bottom line' practice, one that benefits people, planet, and profit, and the emerging new model for sustainable business in the 21st century."

Reading Goodman's list of the four things that make CGP the place to be was like seeing a language in print that you thought had gone extinct. It was logic in an illogical world. For example,
While all the big corporate houses are laying off and cutting back, Chelsea Green is doing better than we ever have. Ours is a mission-based business, whose employees respect the lives (and values) of the authors they're promoting. We put out books on fermentation, and make pickles at home, in other words. We don't do one season Howard Dean, one season Ann Coulter. We just don't.

How many times have I flipped through a catalog for a big corporate house and seen the big lefty of the moment - Michael Moore, say - only to find a Glenn Beck type 5 pages later, followed by some great literary novelist? It's a list built on chasing profit, and if you ain't profitable - I'm staring at you, the messy, bedraggled, unkempt lefties - then you ain't on the list.

And then Galleycat, a blog that symbolizes more than any NYC publishing's misguided attempts to speak to the rest of us off the island, strolls along. This blog shocks me in its cluelessness, even as it legitimately posts some useful news quickly. The endless self-promoting - our radio show/podcasts - and constant posting of video clips, including 2 minute clips of people in taxis reacting to press conferences, and their painful attempt at multiculturalism with Jeff Rivera's "featured Book of Color Pick of the Day" - no offense of Rivera and his organization, which seems great, but this set-up feels painfully ghettoizing, like African American lit sections at Borders - it all adds up to NY telling us what NY is thinking, with the understanding that this is what matters. And maybe 4/5ths of the time, I don't even click on the links in google reader.

So blogger Jason Boog links to Goodman's post and asks, "does the future of publishing begin outside of New York City? " Wha-wha-wha?! Well obviously. And if the fat cats in the big houses don't see that while they hire "digital managers" and abuse 23 year old trust fund kids and ignore conversations happening off the island and outside of their boardrooms and lay off people who need and deserve support, healthcare, and job stability and snap up and drop authors without giving a second thought, then I don't know what to say. Maybe Makenna Goodman can help - but only from afar.

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